Skip to main content

U.S. Navy is developing target-tracking ‘smart bullets’ to defend against drone swarms

navy smart bullets submarine 1056665 1280
Photo via skeeze/Pixabay
Now that drones are used by most modern militaries, swarm attacks are a very real threat to the United States Navy. But not to worry — the The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a solution for that: smart bullets.

DARPA recently announced an $8 million contract with Raytheon Missile Systems to enter phase two of its Multi Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System (MAD-FIRES) program. As part of the deal, Raytheon will build and test MAD-FIRES bullets that are able to alter their path in real time, according to Military Aerospace. Additionally, they’ll be able to track and engage with multiple targets with serious precision from a variety of different directions.

Concepts and simulations of the technology were completed during the first phase, which also included Lockheed Martin Corp. Missiles and Fire Control. Lockheed will likely receive a contract to conduct their own prototyping rounds, too.

MAD-FIRES smart bullets are expected to be fast, powerful, and have the same accuracy as regular missiles, using 20 to 40 caliber ammunition. So even if attacks from drones, missiles, planes, or swarm boats are coming from all different directions, the MAD-FIRES bullets could potentially take all of them out.

The Navy is also working with the Office of Naval Research to develop unmanned swarm boats designed to patrol U.S. shores. As with its MAD-FIRES bullets, the swarm boat program is part of the Navy’s increased efforts to embrace technological advances. Unmanned swarm boats reduce risk, while MAD-FIRES bullets offer a new, low-cost solution for “guided, gun-launched projectiles.”

Raytheon’s phase two is scheduled to finish in March 2018. So while the concept of “smart bullets’ seems like something you’d only see in the movies, it seems that it’s not as far-fetched as you might think.

Editors' Recommendations

Nicole Carpenter
Nicole is a freelance video game and tech writer from Massachusetts. She has a cat named Puppy.
Coronavirus-spotting drone is being tested by police in the U.S.
drone detection 1

Drones are being tested by police in the wider New York area as part of efforts to flatten the coronavirus curve by identifying potential violations of social distancing and detecting possible COVID-19 symptoms in one of America’s pandemic hotspots.

The drones in question are the creation of unmanned aerial vehicle-maker Draganfly. They are being used by the Westport Police Department in Connecticut, a state in which there have so far been upward of 17,550 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It is located adjacent to New York City, which has the most confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S.

Read more
U.S. government uses mobile location data to track movements during outbreak
small businesses scramble to get online as coronavirus spreads uk government advises public avoid theatre  pubs and more due

The U.S. government is using cellphone location data to track the movements of people during the outbreak of coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

Using data from the mobile advertising industry, government officials including those at the federal and state level, as well as those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have been tracking the public's movements to better understand how coronavirus is spread. One person involved said that there was a plan to create a portal through which officials could easily track location data for up to 500 U.S. cities, which could be used to check whether people are complying with shelter-in-place orders and staying at home.

Read more
U.S. Navy’s robot submarines could carry out autonomous attacks
Orca sub

The U.S. Navy is in the process of developing armed robot submarines, which could theoretically be used to kill without direct human oversight.

The project is being developed by the Office of Naval Research under the name CLAWS, although it has not been made clear exactly what the acronym stands for. In budget documents, the autonomous underwater weapons system is described as being useful for increasing “mission areas into kinetic effects.” New Scientist, which was first to publish details of these documents, describes this as “military-speak for destroying things.”

Read more